‘Truly magnificent’: new War Horse limited edition to celebrate 40th anniversary

  • A “truly magnificent” edition of the novel War Horse is to be released next week to mark the book’s 40th anniversary.

    Author Michael Morpurgo and illustrator Christian Birmingham will be at the Game Fair on 28 July for the launch of the illustrated limited edition.

    War Horse, which has inspired a Steven Spielberg film and West End stage production, tells the story of Joey and follows him from his home on an English farm to – and through – the First World War, told entirely from Joey’s perspective.

    The limited edition is hand-bound and signed by the author and illustrator.

    “One of the stories I wrote 40 years ago is War Horse,” Mr Morpurgo said. “It’s a book I love dearly. It’s been very good to me, and I know Joey the horse like a member of the family.

    “The story tells of how a horse and boy, Albert, are separated by the Great War and their journey to find each other again. The whole war is seen through the eyes of this horse, who of course didn’t take sides. Starting as a British cavalry horse, he is then captured by the Germans and looked after by the French through the winter. Joey is a neutral observer of this war; he doesn’t take sides, he just lives through and suffers just as the men and women did, as well.

    “Books Illustrated has added this story to their list of classic books and found the most extraordinary illustrator, Christian Birmingham, with whom I’ve worked with before on The Butterfly Lion. They’ve put together this truly magnificent version of my story in three different bindings. This is the most remarkable version of my book and the words and the pictures will come together like a symphony in your head.”

    Flying the flag

    The Game Fair (28-30 July) will also be “flying the flag” for trail hunting.

    On each day, three hunts will parade hounds in the main arena, and hunt staff will demonstrate how they work the hounds while following a trail. On the Sunday, the Ross Harriers will perform a trail-laying demonstration to show how hounds legally follow a trail.

    “The idea is to debunk any myths surrounding the pastime and educate visitors on why it is an essential part of rural Britain,” a spokesman for the event said.

    Another three packs will be seen in the hound exhibition, next to the Horse & Hound Arena, where visitors can meet hunt staff and see an exhibition of hunt buttons and coats from the 1780s.

    Sunday afternoon will feature the inter-hunt relay a knockout competition involving up to 12 teams.

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